WWE Smackdown LIVE review
January 3, 2017
From Jacksonville, Fla.
Live on USA Network
By Greg Parks, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @gregmparks)
– Cold open inside the arena, as The Miz’s intro began to play. He came out wearing a suit, accompanied by Maryse. They replayed Miz’s inappropriate comments made toward Renee Young two weeks ago. Then last week, Miz was attacked outside his locker room by Dean Ambrose. Tonight, Ambrose challenges The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Miz ran down his accolades and said his one New Year’s resolution this year is to be more forgiving. He said there’s someone who owes him an apology, and that person knows who SHE is. Miz asked her to come out without naming her. When no one did, he said Smackdown Live won’t continue until he gets his apology from Renee Young.
Miz accused Young of setting him up last week and all of a sudden, Ambrose has an Intercontinental Title match against him tonight. He said she’s in tight with her Talking Smack co-host and Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan, which is how she got Ambrose a title shot. Miz kept verbally pushing and pushing, leading to Ambrose coming out to his music. When he hit the ring, Miz put Maryse between him and Ambrose, bailing to the apron.
Maryse didn’t budge when Ambrose tried to get past her, and in fact, slapped Ambrose. Miz called for Maryse to exit the ring and the two left up the ramp. Ambrose remarked that Maryse hits harder than Miz. A fine opening segment, leaving some mystery for the viewers as Young never answered Miz’s catcalls. They seem to be saving the moment when she opens up about her relationship with Ambrose.
– Tonight, the contract signing between John Cena and A.J. Styles for their match at Royal Rumble.
– Next, Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin.
– Tom Phillips thanked Ohana Bam for “Blow Your Mind,” the official Royal Rumble theme.
1 – BARON CORBIN vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
During Corbin’s entrance, Mauro Ranallo, JBL, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips were shown at the announce desk. Corbin avoided an early Ziggler dropkick and stomped away. Corbin caught Ziggler with a hard elbow. He methodically worked over Ziggler. Lots of choking involved. Corbin knocked Ziggler off the apron and to the floor. At the four-minute mark, Ziggler began a comeback. A dropkick sent Corbin to the outside to think things over. He was not happy the tide had turned. They cut to break at 4:27 of the match.
Back at 8:13 with Corbin grinding his boot into the back of the head of Ziggler. And all is right with the world. Ziggler fought out of a rest-hold, but in coming off the second rope, was rocked with a forearm for a two-count. Ziggler made a comeback again, with his elbowdrop registering a two-count. Corbin shrugged off a Fameasser and clotheslined Ziggler. Ziggler came back and again nearly pinned Corbin. Corbin whiffed on a clothesline and Ziggler Zig Zagged him for two. Ziggler hammered away at Corbin in the corner, but enough separation was created to where Corbin could grab him for the End of Days and pick up the win.
WINNER: Corbin, at 13:39. Corbin’s stock continues to rise as he puts in another excellent performance. They’re building matches smartly around his strengths.
Corbin picked up a chair to do further damage, but Kalisto ran out to help defend Ziggler. He low-bridged Corbin out of the ring. Kalisto picked up the chair, and surveying the scene, Corbin decided to head to the back. Kalisto turned around…right into a Ziggler superkick. Ziggler yelled that he doesn’t need Kalisto or anyone. A healthy percentage of the crowd chanted “yes!” at this development. Ziggler walked up the ramp with a purpose. I’m not sure if that’ll reinvigorate Ziggler enough to matter, but at least it’s something.
– Miz vs. Ambrose, with the I.C. Title on the line, is still to come.
– Carmella was stretching backstage when James Ellsworth walked up. He got his words mixed up talking to the pretty lady. He wished her luck in her match tonight. He took off his shirt (the one with his face on it) and gave it to Carmella. She seemed to be hiding some disgust at first, but ended up thanking him, sounding sincere, and asked him to escort her to the ring.
– Backstage in the babyface locker room, Mojo Rawley, Rhyno, and Apollo Crews were making small talk. Ziggler walked in and trashed the place. Crews asked him what just happened out there. Ziggler got mad and headbutted Crews, then the two started brawling before Rhyno and Rawley broke it up.
– The announcers reacted to Ziggler’s new attitude, then tossed it to a video of La Luchadora helping Alexa Bliss beat Becky Lynch last week.
– Becky Lynch was next out. She faces La Luchadora, next. JBL called Mauro a “La Lucha-Dummy” before they went to break, for seemingly no other reason than to use that zinger.
2 – LA LUCHADORA vs. BECKY LYNCH
JBL suggested that a variety of people could be La Luchadora. So Lynch shouldn’t be looking to extract revenge this week, considering the person playing the character could be different than the one that cost her the title last week? Lynch took La Luchadora to the ground and took out her frustrations on her. Bexploder by Lynch. La Luchadora ended up going under the ring. She came from the other side, but looked like a different person. STO to Lynch, then a missed Twisted Bliss. Lynch hooked in the Disarm-Her for the submission win.
WINNER: Lynch, via submission, at 2:04. More of an angle than a match, but it has an old-school feel.
The second La Luchdora was unmasked to be Alexa Bliss. The first La Luchadora appeared and she and Bliss double-teamed Lynch, taking her out and laying her out in the ring.
– The contract signing for Styles vs. Cena is next.
– Tonight on 205 Live following Smackdown, T.J. Perkins faces Neville.
– Daniel Bryan came out for the contract signing. Bryan introduced first the challenger, John Cena. Next: WWE Champion A.J. Styles. The first thing Styles asked, to Bryan, is why they were doing this. I have the same question. He said their relationship goes way back. But, he said, Cena isn’t like the two of them. He wanted to know why Cena, off TV for weeks, gets a title shot. Bryan mentioned Smackdown Live beating Raw in the ratings last week for the first time ever. He said it was because Styles headlined that show and because Cena made his big return. He wanted to keep the momentum going to the Royal Rumble. So, they’re giving everybody the biggest match possible.
Bryan said this is the match everybody wants, and the match fans are going to get. Bryan reminded Styles that he beat Cena three times already. With that, Bryan took his leave. Styles accused Cena of having been “gifted” a title match from a man who is virtually his brother-in-law. Styles said it was Cena last year with the title who told him he needed to win to prove that he belongs in WWE. Now, Styles is telling Cena if he doesn’t win, Cena doesn’t belong in WWE. Styles said, “we (WWE) can do it without you, John.”
Cena said he has a lot of respect for Styles, but Styles charged Cena with covering his tracks with that remark. Styles brought up Cena saying on Talking Smack that he was wrong with what he said in the past about The Rock. Styles countered, saying Cena was in fact truthful about what he said about Rock, because it’s also the truth about Cena now. Styles said when it comes to Hollywood, Cena will never be as good as The Rock. And in the ring, he’ll never be as good as Styles. Styles signed his name to the contract.
Loud “Cena” chants, with some boos trying to drown it out. Cena said a big part of being a man is admitting when one is wrong. But it’s also standing up to someone pushing you, and pushing back. Cena stood out of his chair and pushed it aside. He said Styles made the biggest mistake of his life: He pissed off John Cena. Cena said he does need a win to prove he belongs, but now he’s lost all respect for Styles, who he now believes is a “punk little bitch.” Cena said he has made a career out of shutting people’s mouths. He said he’s going to make Styles feel as stupid as he looks. Cena gave examples of his passion for the business. He said anyone in his shoes would’ve already gone Hollywood permanently, but he’s still here. He paced the ring like a caged dog.
Cena said both he and Styles need this match, because it’s about more than just the two of them. He said Styles is no different than anyone else who has said “Cena sucks.” He said, on their best day, those people could never be him. Cena told Styles to bring his A-Game to the Rumble, because he’ll still take the championship. The contract was then signed by Styles. Baron Corbin’s music played and he walked down the aisle. Based on the reaction he got, the fans didn’t seem ready to accept The Big Dog in this position quite yet.
Corbin said on his first day in WWE, he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. He wanted to make it known that he’s the first Smackdown Live roster member to enter the Royal Rumble. He told them he’s leaving Wrestlemania as WWE Champion. Cena wanted to pick a fight with Corbin, who threatened to knock Cena’s teeth down his throat. Cena turned over the table, leading to Styles blind-siding Cena with a kick to the back of the head. He then left the ring. Corbin told a laid-out Cena that maybe Styles is right and that his time is up. Fantastic segment all around. Interesting to see Corbin stick his nose further into the main event game.
– Maryse approached Renee Young backstage. She slapped Young on behalf of her husband. She told Young never to touch her husband again.
3 – ALIYAH vs. CARMELLA
No entrance for either woman. James Ellsworth was ringside with Carmella. NXT’s Aliyah, making her Smackdown Live debut, went for a snap-mare, but Carmella landed on her feet. A hair pull took Aliyah down. Bronco Buster by Carmella for two. Aliyah fought while in a rear chin-lock, giving more effort than most in looking like she was trying to break free. Northern Lights suplex by Aliyah for two. Ellsworth held onto Aliyah’s foot as she was on the second rope. Superkick by Carmella, then the Code of Silence.
WINNER: Carmella, via submission, at 2:51. That was three minutes of painful announcing. Aliyah looked good for the time given, and Carmella gets a win to further her unexplainable affiliation with Ellsworth.
– Ambrose vs. The Miz for the I.C. Title is tonight’s main event.
– American Alpha was walking backstage. The new tag champs are in action, next.
4 – BREZANGO vs. AMERICAN ALPHA
An abbreviated entrance for Breezango. As Alpha came out, they showed how AA became tag champs last week. Tyler Breeze tried to give Chad Gable a ticket from the fashion police, but Gable was having none of it. He ripped it up and suplexed Breeze. Tag to Jordan, who knocked Fandango off the apron and knocked Breeze back down. Grand Amplitude finished it.
WINNERS: American Alpha, at :31. Surprisingly quick result. We still haven’t seen Alpha let loose like they showed in NXT. Fandango and Breeze, given time, could be a team to bring that out of them.
The Wyatt Family came on the Titan Tron. Bray said nothing lasts forever and eventually, reality will hit the tag champs. He said the Wyatt Family bond has only been made stronger. Next week, they’re coming to reclaim the titles. Bray walked off, leaving either Luke Harper or Randy Orton to give the final word. Both leaned in, but it was Orton who got out “run” first.
– Miz vs. Ambrose, I.C. Title, still to come.
– Next, Nikki Bella addresses Natalya.
– Tonight on Talking Smack, after 205 Live on the WWE Network: The Miz, Baron Corbin, Carmella, and James Ellsworth.
– Natalya and Nikki Bella were both in the ring. Nikki said she can’t despise Nattie like Nattie does her. Instead, she said she feels bad for Nattie. She said she and her sister have worked hard their entire lives to make their name mean something, while Natalya has tread on her last name. Natalya said she’s gotten nothing from her family. Nikki brought up her theme music and the Sharpshooter that hearken back to other Hart Family members. Nikki said Natalya is the “nothing” of the Hart Family. Nattie said Nikki is selfish and doesn’t care who she hurts. Natalya showed a Tweet from her uncle Bret, complimenting Nikki and featuring a pic of the two of them. Nattie said she doesn’t even want to think about what Nikki did to get Bret to send out a Tweet like that. She said she’s better than Bret ever was.
Natalya said Nikki uses her sex appeal to get what she wants. She reminded Nikki that beauty fades, and when it does, “John” is going to leave you. And when he does, Nikki will die alone. Yikes. Nikki delivered a forearm smash to Natalya. Nikki walked out as referees came to check on Natalya. The shots at Bret by Natalya seemed a little out there, but hey, it’s WWE.
– Dasha Fuentes caught up to Ambrose backstage. She asked if he was in the right mindset for his Intercontinental Title Match. It wasn’t a smooth go of it for Fuentes, again. Ambrose said he’s going to take away the most important thing in the world to Miz – not his wife, but his I.C. Championship.
– Ambrose came to the ring. He challenges for the Intercontinental Championship, next.
– Jack Gallagher addressed the camera backstage. He talked about defeating Arya Daivari in a duel last week on 205 Live. Tonight, he’ll be in action, wrestling this time.
– Next week on Smackdown, Nikki Bella vs. Natalya.
– And, American Alpha defends their newly-won tag titles against the former champions, The Wyatt Family.
– Plus, John Cena faces Baron Corbin in singles action.
5 – DEAN AMBROSE vs. THE MIZ – INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Greg Hamilton handled formal ring introductions. Ambrose went right after Miz at the bell, leading to Miz going on the run. Back in the ring, Ambrose kicked away at Miz in the corner. Miz ducked to ringside to avoid a further beating. Ambrose turned his back, trying to get Miz back into the ring. Miz took the bait, and paid for it. Ambrose rammed him into the steel steps on the outside, then sent him into the timekeeper’s area. He crotched Miz on the barricade, and followed it up with a running forearm. More fight outside the ring, where Miz was tossed over the announce table. Miz was shoved into the ring, but Maryse got in Ambrose’s face. That allowed Miz to hit a wrecking ball dropkick. Miz sent Ambrose into the steps to buy himself some time. They went to break at 3:12 of the match.
Back at 6:37 with Ambrose back-dropping Miz to the floor. Ambrose then came off the top with a flying elbow. Miz finally came back to work on the left knee of Ambrose. Ambrose rolled Miz up for two. Swinging neck-breaker, also for two. Ambrose ascended the turnbuckles, but Miz caught him with lefts as Ambrose was crotched on the top. Maryse went to the apron as Ambrose jumped off the top, but Miz caught him in a Skull Crushing Finale for two. Yes Kicks by Miz. Miz kicked Ambrose in the head, but Ambrose simply leaned back and connected on the Lunatic Lariat. The match reset at about 12:00 with both men slowly getting to their feet. Miz was clotheslined over the top. Suicide dive from Ambrose. Maryse was back in Ambrose’s face, slapping him. Referee Dan Engler considered a disqualification, but Ambrose stopped his arm before he could call for the bell. Instead, he asked the ref to send Maryse to the back. So he did. Miz hit Ambrose from behind with the belt while Engler was sending Maryse packing. But Miz only got a two-count. Miz grabbed Ambrose by the hair and went for a Skull Crushing Finale, but Ambrose reversed into Dirty Deeds for the win. Feels like they could’ve held off on Ambrose winning the title for a little longer.
WINNER: Ambrose, at 14:17.
Some of the key moments in the match were replayed. A final plug for T.J. Perkins vs. Neville next on 205 Live while Ambrose celebrated with the title on the announce desk to close out the first Smackdown of 2017.
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Greg Parks has been covering WWE Smackdown for PWTorch.com since January of 2007. He co-hosts the PWTorch Livecast PPV post-shows at least once a month. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks for live Tweeting during Raw, Impact, and PPVs, as well as other bits of wisdom. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.